The information below contains the list of all the men and women who contributed the most in the history of the Philippines when it comes into the business industry.

List A to Z most popular businessmen and businesswomen in Philippine history

These brilliant folks were all listed in the National Historical Commission of the Philippines official website. Please be noted that the list below was sorted by surname.

Please refer to the list below for more details.

List A to Z most popular businessmen and businesswomen in Philippine history

Pedro B. Abad Santos (Born: January 31, 1876 in San Fernando, Pampanga)
A man of principle and great influence, his life was dedicated to the welfare of the toiling masses. As early as 1932, he was heard criticized Quezon’s “social justice program,” calling it a paper plan. A revolutionary radical, he often had heated arguments with his younger brother Jose who was Quezon’s Secretary of Justice. Both of them had the same ideological objective – that of fostering the welfare of the masses – but held divergent views on how to attain these. Thus the two brothers were said to illustrate the old conflict between revolution and evolution as means for securing change in the existing order, similar to that of Rizal and Bonifacio. Read more

Salvador Z. Araneta (Born: Manila, January 31, 1902)
Araneta served as Secretary of economic Coordination under President Elpidio Quirino from 1950-1951, and Secretary of agriculture and Natural Resources under President Ramon Magsaysay from 1955-1956. He was the founder of educational, business and civic institutions like the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, Feati University, RFM Corporation, and the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA). He was a member of the board of trustees of the Philippine Sugar Association and a director of the Lopez Sugar Central. Read more

Alfredo C. Carmelo (Born: Manila on July 8, 1896)
Alfredo Carmelo was a well-known aviator, businessman and painter. He had the distinction of being the first Filipino to fly solo on a plane in the Philippines and of holding the No. 1 pilot certificate from the first aviation school in the country. After attending the Ateneo de Manila and San Beda College, he was sent by his father to Germany in 1914 to learn all about lithography, the family business. While there, he took an interest in flying among his circle of friends, who were mostly pilots He was introduced to aerial acrobatics. While in Leipzig, he religiously attended the weekend air shows and observed the great German pilots, such as Immelmann and Von Rickshofen, display difficult maneuvers. This developed in him an enthusiasm for air stunts. He was supposed to enroll at the famous Linthenthal Flug Schule at Hale but his plans were thwarted by the eruption of the First World War. He was made to come home by his family. Read more

Telesforo C. Chuidian (Born: Binondo on January 5, 1855)
Telesforo Chuidian was a Chinese-Filipino. He was the only son of the four children of Jose Chuy Dian and Silveria Chuaquico. The three other children were Roberta, Raymunda, and Candelaria. His father was a native Chinese who came to the Philippines at the turn of the 18th century. Soon after setting himself up in business in Manila, he converted to Catholicism and married Silveria Chuaquico, a daughter of a long-established Chinese family in the city. Jose Chuy Dian, who later changed his name to “Chuidian,” had bought a store from a Basque in Escolta, then the business center of Manila. He named it “La Puerta del Sol.” He traded in sugar, coffee, palay, tobacco, and abaca. When he died, sometime between 1869 and 1871, his widow and son took over the business. Read more

Hermeginildo Cruz (Born: Binondo, Manila December 31, 1880)
Hermeginildo Cruz was the second child of a poor couple in Binondo, Manila. His parents’ early death left him and his sister with the responsibility of rearing their younger brothers. Poverty forced him to sacrifice his own studies so he could send his siblings to school. Through self-study and a grim determination to succeed, however, he learned to read and write in Tagalog and Spanish. During the revolution against Spain, he served on the staff of General Antonio Luna as a second lieutenant. He later worked as a minervista (pressman) at Luna’s printing shop, which published La Independencia, a revolutionary newspaper. Sympathetic to the cause of laborers, who were disgruntled with the working conditions at the time, he organized a labor union and led the first printers’ strike in Luna’s shop. For this, he lost job. Read more

Enrique Zobel de Ayala (Born: Spain on October 9, 1877)
An industrialist and businessman of Spanish lineage, was the founder of the Premio Zobel, the premier literary prize for Philippine writing in Spanish. His parents, Jacobo Zobel de Zangroniz and Trinidad Ayala de Roxas, were on a world tour when his mother gave birth to him. Zobel studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, but obtained his bachiller en artes degree at the Real Colegio de Alfonso XII in El Escorial, Spain. He took further studies at the Liceo de San Luis and Sainte Barbe College in Paris. He also enrolled in some engineering courses at the Ecole Superiure des Mines, from 1897 to 1901. In 1901, he married Consuelo Roxas, who bore him three children. The marriage consolidated the Zobel-Ayala-Roxas business triumvirate, resulting in the establishment of major industries in the country. The group engaged in the manufacture of bricks, soaps, oils, cochineals, and tobacco; undertook the exploitation of the first coal mines in Compostela, Cebu; established alcohol distilleries, ice plants, as well as the first sugar central in the Philippines. Read more

Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay (Born: Tambobong [Malabon now], 1701)
A native woodblock artist. Trained and educated by the Spaniards, Bagay was a renowned native expert in engraving and printing during those times. He first drew attention in 1734 when he engraved Pedro Murillo Velarde’s Mapa de Filipinas, the first detailed map of the Philippines. His name appeared in 1744 in a reduced size of the same map in an engraved copper. He must have gained further prominence as an engraver as his name was mentioned in the Cartas y Cartografica de las Islas dedicada al rey Nuestro Senor por Mariscal de Campo Don Fernando Valdez Tamon Cavailla by padre Murillo. Read more

Crisanto delos Reyes (Born: Quiapo, Manila, October 25, 1828)
Together with Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora, Crisanto de los Reyes and his close friends Maximo Inocencio and Enrique Paraiso were charged as the principal “instigators and accomplices in the rebellion” of Filipino soldiers at the Cavite Arsenal. Their hurried trial by the Consejo de Guerra or military tribunal culminated on February 15, 1872 with the condemnation of the three priests to die by strangulation and of De los Reyes and others to ten years of banishment to a penal colony in Spain. Other prominent Filipinos like Basa and Regidor, were rounded up a few days later and exiled to the Marianas the following month. His parents, Gregorio de los Reyes, a prosperous lawyer and Dominga Mendoza, both of Chinese mestizo background . His father graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with degrees in Canon Law and Civil Law in 1826 and a Licentiate in Civil Law in 1828. De los Reyes was orphaned of both parents when he was still a child. It was the loyal and compassionate family retainers who took it upon themselves to take care of him. Read more

Rosario Encarcion (Born: January 15, 1910 in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija)
As the popular saying goes, behind a successful man is a woman. Rosario Encarnacion, wife of Silvino L. Encarnacion, was his partner and collaborator in setting up the Bantug Cooperative Credit Union, one of the most successful credit cooperatives in the Philippines. With her husband, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1968 for community leadership. Rosario Encarnacion was born on January 15,1910 in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, one of the richest rice-producing provinces in Luzon. Her father, who was a farmer, died when she was just two years old. Her widowed mother, a dressmaker, had to support her family of two boys and two girls until she herself died eight years later. Rosario then went to live with her uncle and aunt who had no children of their own and were quite poor. Read more

Jose S. Escaler (Born: Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga on 19 January 1885)
He was the eldest of the six children of a wealthy couple, Manuel Escaler and Sabina Sioco. After his early education in his hometown, Jose enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran for his segunda enseñanza which he finished at the top of his class in 1897. After the revolution, he pursued a degree in Bachelor of Arts at the Liceo de Manila, graduating in 1903. Two years after, he finished his Bachelor of Laws from the Escuela de Derecho. Rafael Palma was once his teacher in the Law school. Escaler went to the United States and enrolled at the Yale University. His studies at Yale was cut short because he was obliged to see his father who was ill in the Philippines. He passed by Europe on his way to the country. In Europe, he took up graduate courses in law and economics at Oxford. Before returning to the Philippines in 1909, Escaler had toured France, Germany, and Italy. Back in Manila, Escaler took the Bar Examinations, which he successfully passed. Read more

Jose Benjamin Corteza Gaston (Born: December 11, 1913 in Silay, Negros, Occidental)
He was the eldest of the 11 children of Emilio Gaston and the former Amparo Corteza The Gastons were of French ancestry. They were pioneer sugar planters and millers who formed part of the leading economic and political forces in the province. Emilio Gaston established the Talisay Milling Corporation, one of the largest sugar producers in the world. In the field of politics, he was a co-founder of the Nacionalista Party and was elected governor of Negros Occidental in 1933. Benjamin, as he was commonly known, first attended school in Negros. He enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts course at the Ateneo de Manila but was not able to finish his studies. He was called home when his father died in 1936 to take over the family responsibilities. Read more

Dominador Gomez (Born: Manila in 1868)
Studied medicine at the University of Santo Tomas but finished the course in Madrid. While a medical student in Madrid, he joined the group of young and patriotic middle-class Filipinos of intelligence, courage, and prominence that had organized the Propaganda Movement to work in Spain for political and social reforms in the Philippines. Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar led the group. An essayist and a brilliant orator, he supported the movement with both his pen and his tongue. He wrote under the pseudonym, “Ramiro Franco,” for its organ, La Solidaridad. He helped finance the publication of this periodical from 1889 to 1895. Read more

Laureano M. Guevara (Born: Marikina on July 4, 1851)
Founder of the shoe industry that made the town of Marikina famous not only in the Philippines but also abroad. His parents are Jose Emiterio Guevara and Timotea Marquita San Andres. He learned how to read and write from his parents. Later, he enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. However, he did not finish his studies since he was more interested in helping his father in his business enterprises. Guevara was concerned that the youth of the town were growing into men without knowing any useful trade. Hence, he aspired to provide them with some gainful occupation. Observing that only the well to do could afford to buy and wear shoes, he thought of manufacturing shoes that the common folk could afford. However, the shoemakers in Manila were reluctant to teach him the process of making shoes. Undeterred, he tried to undo a pair with the help of Tiburcio Eustaquio, a wooden shoemaker. He separated and unstitched different parts – the sole, heels, vamps – and studied closely how they were put together. Although his initial efforts were unsuccessful, he was not dismayed. He continued with his experiments, improving his method until he mastered the art of shoe making. He offered the very first pair he finished to Fr. Jose Zamora, the parish priest of Marikina, who paid P2.50 for it. Read more

Mariano N. Limjap (Born: Binondo, Manila on October 19, 1856)
Businessman, Patriot and Philanthropist. A member of the Revolutionary Congress, Mariano Limjap was a well-known leader and philanthropist. He was one of the principal patrons who worked for the erection of the Rizal monument at the Luneta. He gave scholarships that provided free tuition, board and lodging, and other incidental expenses to poor but deserving students at the University of the Philippines and other schools. He was the eldest of three sons of Joaquin Limjap and Policarpia Nolasco of Binondo. Hi father, a native of Amoy who had converted to Christianity, was a wizard in business. Limjap must have taken after his father in this regard. Read more

Jose M. Basa (Born: December 19, 1839 in Binondo, Manila)
Merchant and Patriot. Jose M. Basa, patriot and one of the pillars of the Propaganda Movement. Manila to Matias Basa and Joaquina San Agustin. His father was a reputed merchant and realtor whose foresight and initiative reclaimed the swampy area in Escolta, making it possible to construct houses and even a thoroughfare. After obtaining his Bachiller en Filosofia from the University of Santo Tomas in January 1860, Basa engaged in distillery business in Trozo, Manila. Meanwhile, the growing dislike against the Spanish authorities, in the government and even in the church, was becoming more evident and knowing possible persecutions from going against the influential clergy and authorities, many rich Filipinos chose to keep silent while Basa chose to take side with his countrymen. He affiliated himself with the reform movement. He took side with the cause of the secular priests like Fathers Pedro Pelaez, Pedro Jose Burgos and others. Read more

Juan D. Martinez (Born: November 24, 1859 in Orani, Bataan)
Juan Martinez was a man who rose from rags to riches through industry. His parents were Ponciano Martinez and Severina David. His parents were poor. They had to travel from one place to another in search of a living. This ended when his father landed a job in a hacienda in Iloilo. The longer hours he worked in order to earn took their toll on the health of his father, who died not long afterwards. Due to penury, Martinez did not have proper schooling. He could barely read or write. To survive, he had to fend for himself. He frequented city port of Iloilo, to fish in its waters. He sold whatever he could catch and, with the money, took care of his daily needs. Read more

Roman T. Ongpin (Born: February 28, 1847 in Binondo, Manila)
Nationalist and Philanthropist. The nationalist merchant of Chinese ancestry. His parents were Simon Ongpin and Sinforosa Tanbensiang. His father, a Chinese emigrant, taught him early about business. Ongpin left his studies at the Colegio de San Juan and engaged in business. On March 1, 1882, he opened on Rosario Street a store “El 82”, named after the year 1882. His store sold paints, varnishes, oils, art supplies, other carpentry, and mechanical tools. It became a convenient meeting place for Filipinos and a source of propaganda updates and events of the day. Read more

Francisco B. Ortigas (Born: September 11, 1875 in Porac, Pampanga)
Legal Luminary. His parents were Ignacio Ortigas, a sergeant in the Spanish infantry, and Asuncion Barcinas, a Filipina. Orphaned at an early age, his uncle enrolled him at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran that was accepting orphans of Spanish officers as students and capista. Ortigas wanted to become a pharmacist but the course was not offered in Letran and his uncle could not afford to send him to another school. Because of this, he was left with no choice but to stay in Letran and take the course it offered. He enrolled preparatory course for Law where he became acquainted with other students like Sergio Osmeña, Manuel L. Quezon, Vicente Madrigal and Francisco Imperial. Read more

Toman Pinpin (Born: between 1580 and 1585 in Barrio Mabatang, Abucay, Bataan.)
First Filipino Printer. Biographers surmised that Tomas Pinpin was born between 1580 and 1585 in Barrio Mabatang, Abucay, Bataan. In 1646, Dutch marauders plundered and burned the Parish of Abucay, including the records of parishioners where Tomas Pinpin’s birth and parentage could have been traced. Tomas Pinpin is immortalized in history as the first Filipino printer and the first Filipino to publish a book. He learned his trade from Father Francisco Blancas de San Jose who, when assigned as parish priest of Abucay in 1608, brought with him the printing press he established in Binondo, Manila in 1602. Read more

Panday Pira (born: na )
First Filipino Cannon Maker. The presence of canons used against the Spaniards when they came to Manila in 1570 was only one of the evidences of the civilization the Filipinos already have. These early cannons were credited to Panday Pira, a native from the Southern islands of the country, who migrated to Manila in 1508. Panday is a Tagalog word, which means blacksmith. Stories in Tausug “tarsillas” mention that Sumatran Muslim prince, Rajah Baginda, brought the first firearm to Sulu in 1930, and it was possible that he introduced the manufacture of artillery, which Panday Pira learned and introduced when he arrived in Manila and established a foundry in the north bank of Pasig or San Nicolas district. Rajah Sulayman commissioned Panday Pira to make several pieces of cannons to be mounted on the palisades surrounding his kingdom and on the seaside portion of his wooden fort. Read more

Margarita U. Roxas de Ayala (Born: July 20, 1826 in San Miguel, Manila)
Successful Businesswoman and Philanthropist. She was a philanthropist who shared with the poor not only her wealth but her life as well. While Rizal, Del Pilar, and other patriots campaigned to liberate the indios from exploitation and bondage under the Spanish colonial administration, she distinguished herself with charitable works, like providing free schooling and medical assistance, for the least fortunate among them. She had both the heart and the means for that life-long “mission” of hers. Margarita de Ayala y Roxas was the oldest of the three children of Domingo Roxas and Saturnina Ubaldo. Her father was a rich businessman who founded the Ayala y Cia, a commercial firm. Her mother was a Spanish lady. She got her education through tutorial lessons and self- study. Read more

Toribio M. Teodoro (Born: Barrio Matang Tubig (now Grace Park), in Caloocan, Rizal on April 27, 1887)
Rags-to-Riches Entrepreneur. A wage earner-turned-millionaire, Toribio Teodoro was an inspiring example of Filipino initiative and enterprise. The son of poor parents from Tondo named Julian Teodoro and Apolinaria del Mundo. Barely 12-years-old but eager to help his parents eke out a living, he began working in El Oriente, a cigar factory, earning a weekly salary of 80 centavos. Full of ambition, industrious, and determined to improve hi lot in life, he gave up his initial job to start a business enterprise with his friend, Juan Katindig. On November 14, 1910, they opened a small shop at 821 Calle Cervantes (now Rizal Avenue) that sold shoes and slippers bearing “Ang Tibay” brand. The business was capitalized at only P210, of which P30 was put up by Katindig. Read more

Leonides S. Virata (Born: Barrio Medicion in Imus, Cavite on April 22, 1918)
Economist. One of the most respected economists in the Philippines. He obtained his law degree in 1940 and business administration degree, cum laude, in 1941, both courses from the University of the Philippines. He did graduate work at the Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. Virata was in the US when the Philippine Commonwealth was evacuated to America because of the raging war in the Pacific. From 1946 to 1948, he worked as officer of the Philippine Embassy in the US. Read more

Luis R. Yangco (Born: Bacoor, Cavite on August 19, 1841)
Pioneer of Water Transportation Business. Luis R. Yangco, the man whose life was a rag to riches story, the youngest of the four children of Remigio Yangco, a mestizo sangley, and Agatona Ronguillo, a Spanish mestiza. Yangco was orphaned at the age of seven so that he grew up in the care of an aunt, Agatona Yangco-de Cortes. He learned to be independent at the age of 12 by doing odd jobs at the waterfront. After two years, his exposure at the waterfront gave him the idea of going into his own business. With his P200 savings, he bought a banca, which he used in transporting water jar barrels, as the city enjoyed no modern water supply system during those days. When the Carriedo water works was opened, Yangco instead of being disheartened transformed his banca aguador into a cargo boat, which transported timber and other cargoes from ships anchoring in the bay. Read more

Teodoro A. Yanco (Born: San Antonio, Zambales on November 9, 1861)
Business magnate and Philanthropist. Teodoro R. Yangco, Christian philanthropist and business magnate. He was the only child of Luis Yangco and Ramona Arguelles. His father, who had pioneered commercial shipping in the country married thrice: to his mother, much later, to Dominga Lam and to Victorina Ubin with whom his father had three children. Wanting to give him the best education, his mother hired him a tutor, Vicente Castro, before he enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1880. The following year, Yangco sailed to Europe. From Spain, he moved to England and studied commerce at Ealing’s College near London from 1882-1886. After obtaining his business degree, he traveled to the United States and returned to the Philippines by way of Japan and China. Read more


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